Digital Investment


The recent decision by a New York hospital system to offer a generous subsidy to affiliated physicians for adoption of electronic health records (EHR) has one hospitalist almost giddy at the thought of accessing community physician information through a seamless digital transition.

North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System is thought to be the first nationwide to match the federal government's subsidy—$44,000 over five years—to push physicians toward EHR adoption. Mark Fitterman, MD, FACP, FHM, chief of staff and director of hospitalist services at Huntington Hospital of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, says hospitalists will benefit directly by having more access to patients' health records. That access can save valuable—and costly—time compared with the current situation, where Dr. Fitterman and others in his hospital still use paper records.

"It will help improve transitions of care both coming in and going out," Dr. Fitterman says. "We'll be able to improve patient care and record bi-directionally."

The health system, however, says in a statement that it won't judge success solely on a fiscal basis, focusing instead on "our ability to improve patient outcomes." North Shore's initiative is a $400 million project to link some 7,000 affiliated doctors to the health system's main record system.

The commitment speaks to the growing attention EHR has gathered in the healthcare reform debate. To wit, Dr. Fitterman points out that instead of launching the initiative at a few pilot sites, the system is committing to the project at an institutional level.

"It's not even an option," Dr. Fitterman says. "It's part of the evolution of better care, and those who don't jump on board will go extinct."

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